October 1, 2022

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Canada’s industry minister will convene a meeting with the leader of Rogers Communications in the wake of a massive outage that paralyzed the company’s network and hampered several crucial services, his office announced on Sunday, even as some customers continued to report service disruptions.

A statement released from the office of François-Philippe Champagne said he plans to meet with Tony Staffieri and other telecom leaders to discuss the importance of improving “the reliability of networks across Canada.”

The statement said Champagne found last week’s widespread service disruption — which lasted at least 15 hours and knocked out access to numerous law enforcement, health-care and banking services — “unacceptable,” adding he has expressed that view directly to Staffieri.

“These services are vitally important for Canadians in their day-to-day life and we expect our telecom industry to meet the highest standards that Canadians rightly deserve,” the statement read.

Staffieri released a statement on Saturday attributing Friday’s widespread outage to a network system failure following a maintenance update, adding that the “vast majority” of customers were back online.

Meanwhile, a consumer group made a formal request to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to hold an inquiry into the outage.

Public Interest Advocacy Centre executive director John Lawford said the CRTC would be able to obtain information and documents from Rogers that the public couldn’t access and make recommendations to Rogers about how to prevent future outages.

WATCH | Consumer group asks telecom watchdog for inquiry into Rogers outage: 

Consumer group asks telecom watchdog for inquiry into Rogers outage

John Lawford, executive director of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, has requested the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) hold an inquiry into Rogers’ nationwide outage and set new rules for all telecom providers.

“Happening during apparently routine maintenance makes this very suspect, because you would like to hope that they would do their maintenance in a fashion that wouldn’t risk the whole network,” Lawford told CBC News Network on Sunday.

His organization also asked the CRTC to consider new regulatory responsibilities for all telecommunications providers regarding their communication with customers, compensation requirements and ensuring access was maintained to the 911 system in the case of an outage. 

“Wouldn’t it be great if the companies, at the end of this, got a roadmap from the CRTC that said if you have an outage, you are allowed to borrow some part of another network’s capacity to continue essential services during your outage?” Lawford said.

Disruptions ongoing

Many customers continued reporting service disruptions into Sunday, including Courtice, Ont., resident Paul Platt, who said his home wireless network was only restored after being down for more than 48 hours.

Platt said many of the appliances in his home, including some lights, locks and smoke detectors, depend on an internet connection to function.

“Nothing was working in my house at all,” he said.

Platt said he checked in on his elderly neighbours — one with Parkinson’s disease and another who recently had heart surgery — every few hours over the weekend, noting they also rely on Rogers service and wouldn’t be able to call 911 if needed.

“That’s where that’s not OK,” he said.

Platt said he made numerous attempts to contact Rogers through support lines and social media but was unable to reach any staff.

WATCH | Rogers responds to massive network disruption: 

Rogers CEO apologizes for massive service outage, blames maintenance update

Rogers CEO Tony Staffieri apologized for a lengthy network outage that affected customers across the country and blamed it on a network system failure following a maintenance update in its core network.

He said he’s frustrated both with the lack of communication from Rogers for customers still affected by outages and Staffieri’s Saturday statement in which he said the company’s network and systems were “close to fully operational.”

“That’s the most frustrating thing to me,” Platt said, adding he has worked in IT his entire life. “I understand that things happen, I understand that they’re very complicated. But there’s just no feedback to the customers at all and … no support available for the customers that are still having problems.”

Rogers declined to comment on continued outages when asked by The Canadian Press, but it referred to Staffieri’s previous statement in which he said technical teams are continuing to monitor for “any remaining intermittent issues.”

In a statement Saturday, Rogers CEO Tony Staffieri, shown in New York in 2017, attributed Friday’s widespread outage to a network system failure following a maintenance update. The statement said the ‘vast majority’ of customers were back online, but many reported service disruptions Sunday. (Misha Friedman/Bloomberg)

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the pending meeting with Champagne.

Downdetector, a website that tracks outages, showed the number of people reporting problems with Rogers’ service was significantly higher than usual on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.

There were more than 2,200 outage reports on the site at 5 p.m. on Saturday, up significantly from the baseline of 38 usually seen on the site at that time. Sunday morning’s logs showed 1,479 reports at 8:30 a.m. compared with a baseline of 18.

Montreal, Toronto and neighbouring Mississauga, Ont., as well as the Ontario cities of London and Kitchener, were among those logging the most reports on the website, with the majority of reports being related to issues with Rogers’ landline internet.

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